committed to historic Baptist & Reformed beliefs

 

baptist catechisms

A CATECHISM FOR BABES, OR LITTLE ONES, 1652

This production actually includes three separate catechisms plus a poetic summary of the first catechism.  Some sections within the catechisms designed for more advanced children are marked off by special indicators.  Suggested prayer for four occasions during the day conclude the work. 

Jessey's experience of tutoring dobtless aided his understanding of the learning processes of children.  Though aware of other catechisms for children, Jessey was not convinced of their facile utility for those of younger years and thus desired "to see one so plain and easie in the expressions, as that the very Babes, that can speak out stammeringly, and are of very week capacities, might understand what they say."

The major theological emphases are sin, redemption, law and gospel, and eternal destiny.  Both the second and third uses of the law find expression, but greater stress is placed on the evangelical use than on the sanctifying use.  In addition, the child's inability to perform good deeds and his utter dependence on grace clearly mark the soteriological development.

"Baptist Catechisms, To Make Thee Wise Unto Salvation", Tom J. Nettles

 

A SHORT CATECHISM ABOUT BAPTISM, 1659 by John Tombes, B.D.

"Here is a rare glimpse into the baptismal debate that raged in England between the 1620's and, well, today. After questioning the infants interest in the covenant while delivering the 1627 catechetical lectures at Magdelan Hall, Oxford, John Tombes pondered his views for 15 years before he finally came to credobaptist (believer's baptism) convictions. For another Seventeen years, he championed the cause for credobaptism as a needed reform in the National Church. This Short Catechism was published as a distilation of 32 years of thought as regards baptism. Here is Tombes' mature, yet succinct presentation of the essence of baptism.

"During these 32 years, Tombes engaged the leading theological minds about this topic. He had a public debate with an ingenious Baptist who convinced him 1 Cor. 7:14 was no basis to practise infant baptism, he had a public debate with Richard Baxter on the subject, he exchanged polemics directly with Marshall and Ballie, and he wrote against more than thirty proponents of paedobaptism during his age. His writings are exegetically based, historically accurate, and theologically informed. Of all the men in the history of the Church who have written about baptism, Tombes' has more published pages than anyone. Yet, he has been lost to the modern reader. There are some anomalies in his thought. However, there is great profit to be found from time spent with a man who has become my friend, though dead, John Tombes, BD."

Mike Renihan, Grace Chapel, Editor, 1995

 

INSTRUCTION FOR THE IGNORANT, BUNYAN'S CATECHISM, 1675

John Bunyan wrote his Instruction for the Ignorant to awaken sinners to a sense of their depravity and to point them to the only shelter from the wrath to come. Designed generally for "public and common benefit," its specific target was the people of his congregation and their "carnal relations’’ (family). The book substituted for his person as he presently was "driven from (them) in presence, not affection." Since the book appeared in print in 1675 and was written during a time when he was absent from his people, he probably composed it during a 6 month imprisonment beginning March of 1675.

He hoped three groups of people might benefit from his booklet. First, he desired to remind his parishioners of the truths he taught them. Second he designed it as an evangelistic tract for presentation to his people’s unconverted family members "if God will, for their awakening and conversion." Third, he presented it to "all those unconverted. . . who have been at any time under my preaching, and yet remain in their sins."

As late as 1684, Bunyan was still committed to catechising children, in Pilgrim’s Progress Part II, Prudence catechised Christiana’s children because "Prudence would see how Christiana had brought up her children."

"Baptist Catechisms, To Make Thee Wise Unto Salvation", Tom J. Nettles

 

BENJAMIN KEACH'S CATECHISM, 1693

This Catechism was originally published to clarify the theology of the Second London Baptist Confession that was written in 1677 and published after the Glorious Revolution in 1689. This particular edition of Keach's Catechism appears to have been edited at some point without changing its essential message.

 

THE ORTHODOX CATECHISM, 1680

The Orthodox Catechism of 1680 by Hercules Collins virtually reproduced the Heidelberg Catechism of the Dutch Reformed Church.  Eager that the Baptists of his generation be "established, strengthened, and settled on that sure rock and Foundation of Salvation, Christ's Merits", Collins presented to his contemporaries one of the noblest of Protestant Catechisms.  Collins follows the order and wording of the Heidelberg Catechism until he arrives at the Baptismal questions.  At that point he departs radically and inserts fourteen question and answer exchanges clearly expressing the Baptist view.   The longest of these is listed here.

"Baptist Catechisms, To Make Thee Wise Unto Salvation", Tom J. Nettles

 

THE PHILADELPHIA BAPTIST CATECHISM

This Baptist Catechism has rarely been seen and was introduced at the time of the Philadelphia Confession in order to aid in the instruction in the proper use of the confession.

 

A CATECHISM FOR GIRLS AND BOYS, 1798

In 1798, Richard Cecil proposed a question for a group of his evangelical minister friends to discuss:  "What may be done towards the interests of the children of a congregation?"

The best use of this catechism would be as a supplement in Sunday School from the first to the fifth grades.  A certain number of responses might be targeted each year as a goal for memorization.

After the fifth grade, the young people may begin to learn and finally master the Baptist Catechism which was used for so many years within Baptist churches in both England and America.

"Teaching Truth, Training Hearts", Tom J. Nettles

 

GADSBY'S CATECHISM, ca. 1800

This Catechism is reproduced for the general benefit of Christians and as a response to those critics of William Gadsby who, among other slanders, claim that Gadsby didn't preach the gospel. These people don't really know what Gadsby taught and fail to realise just how much Gadsby was used by God in spreading the Gospel. William Gadsby was a fervent gospel preacher, he;- "Laboured mightily in the north of England being instrumental in establishing about forty churches." Errol Hulse. May the Lord of the harvest grant that this seed will bring forth fruit abundantly.

 

A CATECHISM OR INSTRUCTIONS FOR CHILDREN AND YOUTH, 1810

Great difficulties surrounded the General, or Arminian, Baptists, in the mid-eighteenth century.  Educaional, disciplinary and theological problems abounded in addition to a dearth in ministers.  The Lincolnshire Association, of which Dan Taylor's church, pastor of a new and small congregation at Wadsworth in Yorkshire which eventually took the name Birchcliff, had a part, regularly discussed in a heated manner the subjects of the diety of the Saviour, his atonement, justification by faith, and regeneration by the Holy Spirit.  Some members of the association denied these doctrines entirely while others vigorously defended them as essential for the Christian faith.

The disagreement led eventually to a separation in the Association.   Dan Taylor and other friends of orthodosy joined with the General Baptists churches of Leicestershire to form the New Connection of General Baptists.

"Baptist Catechisms, To Make Thee Wise Unto Salvation", Tom J. Nettles

 

THE BAPTIST CATECHISM (As presented by the Charleston Association in 1813)

In 1751 several churches united to form the Charleston Association, to make this the first association of Baptist churches in what is now the Southern Baptist Convention. In 1802 the Charleston Association dismissed six churches to join the newly organized Savannah Association (just organized In 1800). These six churches were: Coosawhatchie (Beech Branch), Black Swamp, Pipe Creek (Lawtonville at Estill), Bethesda and Lower Three Runs. In 1813 the Georgia and South Carolina churches decided to have separate associations and the South Carolina churches organized under the name of The Savannah River Association, (462kb).

The Baptist Catechism set to music by Pastor Jim Orrick (very respectfully presented)

 

THE BAPTIST SCRIPTURAL CATECHISM, 1850

A Baptist Catechism intended for advanced members of the sabbath school and Bible classes,  by Henry Clay Fish, 1850.   Henry Clay Fish was born in Halifax, Vt., January 27, 1820 and was the son of a Baptist minister.  Henry was converted at fifteen and studied at the high school in his native town and at the Shelburn Falls Academy.  The day after his graduation from Union Theological Seminary, New York City, June 25, 1845, he was ordained pastor of the Baptist Church at Sommerville, N.J.  The degree of D.D. was conferred on Mr. Fish by the University of Rochester.  Fish's Catechism was taken directly from Baptist Encylopedia by Cathcart.  The Catechism originally produced by Fish is 87 pages long.  What is offered here has been shortened but is still quite lengthy. 

The Catechism is strongly Calvinistic and clearly teaches Christ's atonement for the elect only and that election is solely the choice of God and not man.

 

A PURITAN CATECHISM, 1855

I am persuaded that the use of a good Catechism in all our families will be a great safeguard against the increasing errors of the times,and therefore I have compiled this little manual from the Westminster Assembly's and Baptist Catechisms, for the use of my own church and congregation. Those who use it in their families or classes must labour to explain the sense; but the words should be carefully learned by heart, for they will be understood better as years pass.

May the Lord bless my dear friends and their families evermore, is the prayer of their loving Pastor.
C. H. Spurgeon

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. II Timothy 2:15

Published about Oct 14, 1855, when Spurgeon was 21 years old. On Oct. 14, Spurgeon preached Sermon No. 46 to several thousand who gathered to hear him at New Park Street Chapel. When the sermon was published it contained an announcement of this catechism. The text that morning was, "Lord, Thou Hast Been Our Dwelling Place in All Generations." Ps. 90:1.

 

NATIONAL BAPTIST CATECHISM, 1855

This little catechism was written for the purpose of giving to the thousands of Baptists who do not have an opportunity of attending the annual meetings of the National Baptist Convention a chance to learn the objects, aims and purposes of that Convention, as it is represented by the respective Boards. It will serve also as a useful little handbook for those who attend these meetings as delegates, messengers, etc. It is hoped that the brief information here given will awaken a deeper interest among the people in the general work, to the end that the contributions from churches, Sunday schools, societies, etc., may be increased from year to year until our collections will respectively represent the large, and rapidly increasing membership in our churches. Already unusual activity is manifest in some sections, but until this spirit is generally diffused all over the country, the agitation of this work should be kept before the people. With best wishes for the success of our work and principles along all lines, I am,

Very truly yours,

E. C. MORRIS.

 

A CATECHISM FOR LITTLE CHILDREN, 1864

Baptist State Convention of the North Carolina Sunday School and Publication Board, 1864

 

COMPEND OF CHRISTIAN DOCTRINES HELD BY BAPTISTS: IN CATECHISMS, 1866 by W.W Everts, D.D.

 

A CATECHISM OF BIBLE TEACHING, 1892 by John Broadus

That John A. Broadus would be selected by both the American Baptist Publication Society and the Sunday School Board to write a Baptist Catechism should come as no surprise.  Called by A. Ho. Newman, "perhaps the greatest man the Baptists have produced," he was the most highly respected Baptist of his day, and in scholarship was without peer.  Even as early as 1859, J.P. Boyce recognized the strength of Broadus' influence and implied that his presence was needed for the successful founding of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Broadus' Catechism includes 15 lessons and a section of suggested biblical passages for memorization.  Each lesson consists of two types of questions:  the first set is for all students and the second is for advanced students.

This method arose from much earnest contemplation on the part of Broadus.  Originally the publishing houses sponsoring the project desired separate catechisms for three different age levels.  Settling, however, for two different levels within one catechism, this format appeared to pose special problems.   As Broadus struggled with the problem confronting him, he set forth a tri-fold qualification serving as his guideline.  His marvelous implementation of this set of criteria should certainly aid anyone in evaluating the usefulness of catechisms.  In December of 1891, he wrote:

"Notwithstanding various interruptions this morning I finished Lesson 1. for the "Catechism."  It is, of course, an extremely difficult task to make questions and answers about the existence and attributes of the Divine Being, that shall be intelligible to children, adequate as the foundation for future thinking, and correct as far as they go."

"Baptist Catechisms, To Make Thee Wise Unto Salvation", Tom J. Nettles

 

A BRIEF CATECHISM OF BIBLE DOCTRINE, by James P. Boyce

The author of this brief Doctrinal Catechism knows of no work of the kind in circulation among Baptists. Keach's Catechism, generally called the "Baptist Catechism", is scarcely used at all. No reason can be assigned for this, except that it is too difficult for children. In the present work, an attempt has been made to simplify, as far as possible, without sacrificing important truth. The teacher may have to give some further aid, by explaining a few words here and there. The aim has been to bring the truth taught within the comprehension of children of ten to twelve years old and upwards. The desire has been felt to promote catechetical instruction in the family and the Sunday School. It is believed that there are many who appreciate its value as a means of teaching the truth of God. To the attention of such, this little work is commended, with the hope that it may meet their wants. At the same time, Pastors of churches, Superintendents and Teachers of Sunday Schools, and pious parents, are urged to consider how far a partial recourse at least to catechetical instruction may tend to restore the vigorous piety of bygone days.

"Baptist Catechisms, To Make Thee Wise Unto Salvation", Tom J. Nettles

 

A CATECHISM (Adapted by John Piper)

This is a slightly revised version of "The Baptist Catechism" first put forth by Baptists in 1689 in Great Britain. It was adopted by the Philadelphia Baptist Association in 1742. It is patterned on the well-known reformed Westminster Catechism. The few comments in the earlier questions are meant to help parents make things plain to their children.

 
 
The Reformed Reader Home Page 


Copyright 1999, The Reformed Reader, All Rights Reserved